Oliver Fisher sets pace in race for European Tour status

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Oliver Fisher sets pace in race for European Tour status

Euro Tour

Oliver Fisher sets pace in race for European Tour status

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Oliver Fisher made history in last year’s Portugal Masters. He’s not too concerned with history this week, just keeping his playing rights for the 2020 European Tour. A win would be a nice bonus.

The Englishman returned a second consecutive 6-under 65 to move to 12 under and take the lead in the $1.7 million tournament. The former Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup player is a shot in front of South Africa’s Justin Walters and Jeunghun Wang of Korea.

The tournament on Portugal’s Algarve coastline probably feels like a major for many in the field, Fisher included. It is the last counting event for the Euro Tour’s rank and file to hang onto full-time employment next season.

PORTUGAL MASTERS: Leaderboard

Fisher is 112th on the Race to Dubai, with those inside the top 117 keeping full status for next year. Projections had the Englishman needing to finish around 50th to be safe. He’s bound to beat that target after his start.

Thankfully the Englishman was coming back to a course he’ll be forever linked with. Fisher entered the record books in the 2018 Portugal Masters with a second-round, 12-under 59 to become the first player in European Tour history to record a sub 60 score. He’s just as happy 12 months later with two 65s.

“I played well the first few rounds last week (French Open),” Fisher said. “My driving was a lot better in France. I hit the ball well yesterday. I probably didn’t hit it as well today. The wind was quite tough so a few drives are quite tricky so I’m pleased to shoot 65 heading into the weekend.”

The 31-year-old is still looking for his second European Tour victory to go with the 2011 Czech Open. So, is a win just around the corner?

“Anything can happen, just as I proved last year. I’m on the same score for two rounds. Last year, I shot 71 59, this year I’ve got two 65s. I’m looking forward to the weekend.”

Thankfully he has a weekend. Others looking to maintain tour status haven’t been so lucky.

Former UAB star Paul Dunne arrived in Portugal 118th on the Race to Dubai. The Irishman was just 0.7 of a point out of 117th. He won’t climb any higher after missing the cut. He faces a return to the Qualifying School.

Walters and Wang are hoping they won’t be joining Dunne. They are 121st and 119th respectively on the Race to Dubai.

Seven years ago, two time All American Walters finished second to keep his card two weeks after the death of his mother. The 39-year-old is experiencing déjà vu this week: his father passed away in August.

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